Blackmailing a government

CONCERNED government agencies specifically the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should not vacillate and instead pursue all legal actions including the outright revocation of franchises of bus firms that led in the Monday transport strike though it’s hardly felt as it was offset by several public conveyances that fetched stranded passengers to their destinations.

These fastidious bus companies that even had the guts to claim they didn’t plan it as it’s mere “miscommunication” between operators and drivers who thought there was indeed a strike deserve nothing.

They should be severely castigated for abusing the privilege bestowed upon them and trying to blackmail the government with the transport paralysis as if they want to flaunt that they’re kings of the roads no matter what.

For deliberately depriving the services to the commuting public that these bus firms should commit as stated under the terms of their franchises was an unmistakable violation that they should be made liable of.

They’d kept on saying that the government has been adamantly ignoring their pleas for real dialogs as they claim they would abide anyway by whatever impositions in a bid to ease traffic in the metropolis in particular. I think the government just did its job. In fact, they were exempted through their prodding when the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or “number-coding” scheme was first enforced in 2004.

Now, who says there’s not enough dialog? Imagine the couple of years that passed and allowed them to ply in Metro Manila’s main thoroughfares specifically at the 24-kilometer stretch of C-4 or popularly known as EDSA without getting accosted while we heard no whines and gripes from private motorists who have to obey the policy for the good of the public.

The best thing these bus firms could do right now is to give the program a chance to prove its worth.

Anyway, as promised by MMDA chief Francis Tolentino, the bus-reduction scheme can be cancelled anytime if it wouldn’t work. These government agencies particularly MMDA should not always be faulted for every mess in the streets as I believe they’re only exerting efforts and resources to find lasting solutions to the festering traffic problem though some turned ineffective and disastrous.

However, as we’re all focused on these erring bus operators what about these government agencies which have direct control and supervision over the former? I’m referring to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) and its attached agencies, the Land Transportation Office and LFTRB.

That’s why I agree with Navotas Rep.Toby Tiangco, House chairman on Metro Manila development, who initiates a congressional inquiry to review their mandate as to how they regulate the operations of public utility buses (PUBs) which have sprouted like mushrooms on main roads in spite of regular patrols and checkpoints being conducted by concerned authorities who apparently are blind on passing “colorum” buses right on their noses.

In conversation with the former Navotas mayor, he’s wondering how these illegal bus and jeepney operators continue to operate while the pertinent agencies could not offer justifiable explanation as they couldn’t produce documents on the number of illegal buses and jeepneys that compete with legally-franchised buses.

As he offers no objection to MMDA’s coding scheme, Tiangco believes that it could be more effective if the “colorum,” “buntis,” and “kabit,” buses are discouraged from passing the main roads or as much as possible apprehend them so as not to pose similar traffic woes in other thoroughfares outside the metropolis.

“Colorum” buses are those without franchises while “Buntis” happens when bus companies allow a plate number of one bus to be used by at least four or more buses and “Kabit” occurs when bus firms allow their
franchise to be used by other smaller firms for a fee.

A  Revisit

This would give me another chance to revisit the beautiful province of Cebu which made it world-famous as the “Island of Festivals.” Over the weekend, I can have ample time along with a colleague from Camanava Press, of which yours truly is the president, to stroll around the other dazzling places in the city which I failed to see the first time I was there just last year.

Thanks to San Miguel Polo Brewery, to Plant Manager Roger dela Cruz and its communications officer James Lopez in particular who gave us the privilege to witness the national finals of the ever-successful Octoberfest which attracts millions of beer-drinking participants all over the country, making it a traditional and yearly festivity. Arlie Calalo

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